Posted by Admin

On Oscar night I sat back with my husband and two cats, downed two ‘Belgian Whites’ and performed a heroic feat in social media. I tweeted 25 times in three hours, which is about the same number of tweets I posted in the last twelve months. I decided to super-saturate: Instead of direct tweets, I tapped in via HuffPost, where I had only commented once since signing up in 2008.

Why the tweeting frenzy? Educators call it “immersion”. My goal: to become comfortable with the medium, to see if I could be concise, to see if my comments echoed my peers. During (and shortly after) the Oscars, there were a total of 2,065 Oscar-related tweets on The Huffington Post’s Social News roundup. Mine were typical, not exceptional.

Before The Oscars, I was friendless on HuffPost. In three hours I’d made thirteen friends. If you are one of them, do not expect a luncheon invitation. Do not expect to be “poked”. Who chose the word ‘friend’ for someone who follows you on a social network, anyway? Most of the time, I don’t even like ME, why should I like YOU? Here are my top four Oscar tweets. I am only vaguely embarrassed by the other twenty one, which I suppose is an acceptable ratio of banter to blather.

“Why is Nicole Kidman holding hands with her chauffeur? He looks a bit sub-Urban.” “Saw Robert Downey at Aroma Espresso in NYC. Everyone left him alone, suspecting radioactivity. Geiger Counter in my panties confirmed it.” “I think Billy Crystal and Warren Beatty drank from the same hormone chalice.”

Maybe that last one was a bit obtuse for a 140 character tweet: We are consuming Xeno-estrogens in such disgusting amounts that aging males are distinctly feminized, like confused fish in polluted waters. Twenty years ago, I’d never put Warren and Billy in the same pond.

And the Survey Says…

Posted by Admin

I can still hear Richard Dawson’s voice. I think I was about eleven years old when Family Feud was on one of Great Falls’ two TV channels. Predicting what our peers will say is a malleable diversion, not a search for truth. I hear bias, overt and covert, in just about every medium. I read it in The Great Falls Tribune, where a pie chart in a daily sidebar follows (the same few) readers’ opinions on whatever the editors think might be juicy enough to elicit a few phone calls to their survey line. It’s hardly scientific, and in my opinion, barely worth more than a passing thought. “Sheesh, can you believe that only 74 readers took the time to answer today’s poll?”

I’m trying to take a lesson from the Trib, though. They really don’t care about the results of the survey, they just want people to be vested in their paper to maintain readership. I’m planning to launch an entire new blog this spring. Surveys are a great way to get people to open up the next day’s news to look for the results of the previous day’s poll. I learned about the survey site ‘Zoomerang’ as part of a college Media Writing class. Katie Kotynski came into my class with her bag of Web 2.0 tools and shook them out expecting a high speed connection. My brain is still on phone modem, but I managed to grab a few tools as they bounced off my remaining grey matter…among them the Zoomerang Survey tool that I embedded into my blog last Tuesday evening.

I had to invent a survey question on the spot, as guest lecturer Kotynski was putting tool after tool on the computer in front of the class. I decided to imbed Zoomerang into my site before I forgot how. My survey question: Do you read the New York Times online or in print? Of course, I assumed that everyone who clicks on this blog reads the NYT. I understand this is an effete assumption, but I justified it because my most recent blog post was about my experience with America’s flagship newspaper. I put down my designer coffee and tapped the codes into my MAC as Kotynski lectured. I’m not a real snob, I just stayed at a Four Seasons Express last night.

Seriously, I’m sorry I asked. It was a bad question. It took all of twelve seconds to imbed the survey into wedgeblog. I’ve been checking back daily for almost a week, and to my surprise, I’ve actually gotten a few dozen responses to my poorly worded, elitist question. This confirms my theory about the Great Falls Tribune’s daily poll. Any kind of interaction is likely to drive readership.

The results of my poll? 27% of the respondents read the NYT online. 7% read it in print. Because I am NEW at this, and I DID NOT UNDERSTAND that the Zoomerang survey kept generating options, I had a third option that was totally blank. It was called “Option 3”. Another 27% chose Option 3. I love these people. They are my favorites. (So much for unbiased pollsters). Another 40% answered “Other” and left individual responses, like “I read the Sunday Times in print, but the other days of the week, online.” and “Should I read The New York Times”? Thank you for taking the time to give me quick feedback for my newfound newshound skills. In a month or two, I’m thinking of posting a survey asking how much my blog has improved. Here are my options: A lot? A whole lot? Or Option 3?